While the teams were strutting their stuff on stage at Te Kahu o Te Amorangi Te Matatini 2017, Rob Coe-Tipene was helping some young teens strut their stuff on a smaller stage in the Kahungunu Pavilion.
The young catwalk models were showing off Rob’s latest fashion designs for his fledgling lifestyle brand Aotearoa Athletics, which he says is proving popular with visitors.
Rob, tauira recruitment adviser at the Whirikoka campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, had a series of NBA style singlets on show which were branded with the names of waka, rather than the best basketball teams in the world.
“We were just thinking of a way to connect with everybody and the waka was one of the thing that came up, that’s how it came about, because everybody connects back to one of these waka,” he says.
“It was only an idea, we just wanted to do it as a one off because we’re still doing research and development for Aotearoa Athletics, but it’s a good way to do some promotion and get the Aotearoa Athletics name out there.”
Ultimately he hopes to create a leading lifestyle brand focussing on comfortable clothing for the active New Zealand lifestyle.
While the brand was still in its early stages - stocks are still about a month away and he was only taking pre-orders at Te Matatini - it’s not his first foray into fashion.
“I had a clothing brand back in early 2000s, called Hori Wear, which was just printed t-shirts, that was like the first clothing brand that I launched.”
And he says anyone keen on following in his footsteps should go for it.
“It’s just giving it a go, if you think you’ve got an idea people might like, give it a go and if it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t.”